Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Casa Carlos Tapas, Wigan

Hello! I'm back! Apologies for my lengthy absence; this blog was started when I was unemployed and I've found it hard to keep up with my job as a teacher (planning seriously eats into time that should be spent eating/talking/writing/drooling over food). Anyway I'm hoping to try and kickstart it again, and so here are my thoughts on a recent visit to Casa Carlos Tapas restaurant, which used to be The Whitesmiths at the bottom of Standishgate.

My sister and I go out for at least one meal a week, we often plump for tapas as we're greedy and can never decide on one thing on a menu. It's very cliche but it really is my favourite way to eat because of the sociable and relaxed aspect. We've been to Casa Carlos before and were quite pleased with it and so decided to go back one sunny Saturday during a shopping trip to town. The location is fantastic being a short stroll from the shops and bars of Wigan (although I can't deny; a group of my friends and I once rode a shameful taxi from here to Revolutions during a horrific October downpour).

They had outdoor seating but the moany half of our twosome claimed to have spied a couple of wasps and insisted we sat indoors, which didn't bother me as the interior is nicely decorated (spainish nick nacks, the usual fare) and the atmosphere is okay if a bit quiet (probably a bit livlier in the evening).

Now, the food! The menu isn't vast but the specials menu offers up a wide range of surprises. We went for the safe staple options:

Skewered Chicken Fillet with Chilli Sauce:

Patatas Brava:

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce:

Portion of Seafood Paella:

Filo Prawns:

Overall the food was of a very good standard, but not mind-blowing. Far tastier than your run of the mill La Tasca grub, but lacking that authentic kick that I've yet to experience in Britain. The chicken skewers were a highlight, thick and tender with a tasty but not overpowering sauce. The ensaladilla was plentiful and morish, the filo prawns juicy and crunchy, and the patatas bravas was unadventurous but fine. The paella, as always, was disappointing. I don't know whether it's just that no paella will ever live up to my mum's but, especially when bought as part of a tapas, I always end up stuck with clumpy rice and almost non existant and often chewy seafood. The meatballs were also a little bland.

I hope this doesn't sound too negative, as they're definitley almost there, and the service was excellent. A jug of tap water was ordered with no backlash and the waitress was polite, friendly and talkative without being overbearing. There's a variety of menus to sample, the prices are fantastically competitive (only about £4 per tapas), and I won't be hesitating in returning for more.

P.S. here's a picture of my mum's paella for you, in case you were curious...